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Clashing Cultures: Why some teachers have difficulty using the new technologies
by Prof. Edna Aphek

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What is it that causes some people to vehemently avoid using computers and the internet, whereas others readily, rapidly and eagerly adopt the New Technologies?Is it technophobia? Or are there deeper reasons for this aversion to the use of computers and the Internet in particular?

Most of the people I know who are "computer- phobic" watch television, use a microwave, talk on the telephone and drive a car.

For the last six years I have been involved in integrating the ICT in education. Though much of my effort has been quite successful, I often met and still do, a number of teachers who have been most reluctant to adopt the New Technologies as a useful, valid means in their work.

I have been very curious as to what the reasons maybe and was not fully satisfied with the obvious explanations such as:

Teachers, especially the older ones, are afraid of technology, they aren't comfortable with the New
Technologies; on the other hand they can manage, and even be very successful in their work, without using the New Technologies; teachers tend to be conservative and often are resistant to changes.
It's not that the aforementioned arguments aren't true, but they are only part of a bigger picture.

It would be advisable to note here, that in his Diffusion Theory , Everette Rogers claims that an innovation becomes wide- spread once it has crossed the thresh hold of about 13% in a given population. (to be more exact, it could even take up to 20%).

Rogers also postulates that an innovation usually undergoes a period of incubation during which it would be adopted slowly and gradually and only later -on it will gain momentum and become wide spread.

Rogers tells us that the diffusion of a given innovation is contingent upon several factors:
It's complexity, its efficacy in comparison to other means, the timing, the diffusion of information about it, and the social setting in which it's implemented.

I believe that we are past the 20% percent of teachers who are computer savvy, there is much information in the media about the use of computers and the internet, using computers and especially the internet is "innish" and prestigious , yet quite a number of teachers is still left behind as far as using the New Technologies is concerned.
Though much of what Everette Rogers is saying sounds reasonable and makes sense, I still feel there is more to it.
Trying to fathom the reasons that might lie behind this phenomenon , I would like to suggest that we are facing here a clash between two cultures: the new culture, the technological- digital one (TD) , and the older one, the book - pen and paper one.(BP)

These two cultures aren't as of yet, reconciled.
There is much prejudice associated with the New Technologies, there is much disdain associated with the lack of its use. The "fanatics" in each culture think theirs is the only truth and the only right way.

Let's take a look now at some of the characteristics of each of the two cultures:

The BP culture is a focused, centered , well -organized ,paper written culture. In the BP culture information is organized and well arranged usually sequentially. The teacher is the main source of information and authority and the classroom is The Location where learning takes place.

Learning is graded, achievements, learning products and time are uniform. There are solid, proven ways for measuring knowledge and for its grading.

The TD culture is more open, less centered or focused. It believes that there are very many and varied sources of information and many of them are scattered out there in the cyber space. The teacher in this TD culture isn't the main source or the authority as far as knowledge is concerned, but rather a mentor and a guide to learning, to information finding , evaluating and arranging it. Ways for evaluation and grading are still not fully developed, and there isn't as yet a solid body of research as to the efficacy of this way of learning.

The BP culture has a proven past, it looks back to its well paved ways, to its "maps": written textbooks and well designed curricula. The TD culture is looking at the now and the future. It's more adventurous, and uncertainty an asset rather than disadvantage.

The meeting between the two very different cultures, is a meeting between a linear-sequential culture, and an associative, multi- directional, zapping , undirected surfing culture of the young ones.

It's also the difference between a "real-here " tangible culture and a virtual one. The believers of the "Concrete- Here" culture are confronted by the culture of "somewhere out there", in Cyberspace. In this "non- tangible" culture, one sits on a chair in a small limited physical environment, and the spirit roams in the unlimited space of the cyber: visiting museums, meeting people, going on expeditions and much more.

The two cultures also treat time differently:

The BP culture is slow and halting. The DT one is quick and racing.

The information age is an age of a-synchronous as well as synchronous learning, immediacy, constant updating and simultaneity, doing a few things at the same time.
Children of the Information Age often watch television, talk on the phone, surf the Internet and even do their homework, at the same time.

The more traditional culture, is synchronic, and it maintains, that things should be done one at a time.
One culture, that of the book and the teacher and the classroom as the main source of knowledge and the central learning location, is a serious, grave culture.
It believes that learning is a serious matter, mainly in black and white , which requires much effort and investment. The other culture is more lenient: it's lighter, colorful, and integrates different media. It could be described as something between learning and fun, as it combines education and entertainment. Its motto is that learning is fun, and should be like that.

The one culture proposes that learning is the acquisition of many items of knowledge, memorizing is very important, and that the order of acquisition of these items should be decided by the grown ups who know better. In this more traditional culture there is "easy" and "difficult" and "first" and "second", and they must come in this order.
The other culture the DT, the more innovative one, views learning as a dynamic, ever developing airy tissue. There is no such thing as an adult deciding what is easy or difficult for the younger learner. The learner is the one to decide.

It's not that one culture is right and the other is wrong.
Both are right and wrong at the same time.

Those who maintain a priori that the old culture is better than the new one, might not even try and experience the latter. At a stage when and where attempts to implement change are made, an "either- or" approach and value judgment are most detrimental. In such a situation words such as "good" and "bad" should be substituted by "different", "interesting", "worth checking".

The "either- or" approach is also problematic from another aspect. As quite a number of the fans of the new technologies totally reject the "old" book culture and falsely believe that one could find everything and anything, in the Internet.

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